Kolkata–India loses $35 billion each year in road accidents, which is slightly less than the nation’s defence budget, a road safety expert said here on Thursday.

According to Kamaljit Soi, member of the National Road Safety Council of the ministry of road transport and highways, India is “losing a little less” than its defence budget each year on road accidents.

“This is about Rs.1 lakh 70,000 crore in road accidents every year. Human life has become very cheap,” Soi told the media here.

Emphasising the gravity of the situation, he said: “65 percent of the people who are causing accidents are illiterate. Number of deaths is more in the 15 to 44 age group.”

Queried on the Kolkata hit-and-run case in which an Indian Air Force officer was killed during the Republic Day Parade rehearsal, and subsequent arrest of prime accused Sambia Sohrab, whose father was a leader of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, Soi said it’s a “good step if action has been initiated in the matter.”

“Nobody is above the law,” Soi, who is also the chairman of Raahat (The Safe Community Foundation), asserted.

In the same vein, he said the Bombay High Court ruling in the Salman Khan hit-and-run case, in which he was acquitted, was a “bad example” for the nation.

“Everybody should be treated in the same manner. I had vehemently opposed this during the time,” he added.